How would you save Vancouver in two minutes? Mayoral Forum in Chinatown

Bikes and subways.
Towers and shelters.
Dogs and cats.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. hosts 2014 Mayoral Candidates Forum.

Meena Wong, Kirk LaPointe, Gregor Robertson
Meena Wong, Kirk LaPointe, and Mayor Gregor Robertson (pictured) joined indies Tim Ly, Bob Kasting, and Mike Hansen at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (Photos: Jordan Yerman)

Fast talking

The Vancouver civic election campaign trail wended its way into Chinatown on October 30, for the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Mayoral Candidates Forum. The six candidates stated their cases to the local public, while others in the political race popped in to lend moral support, consolidate campaign talking points, or just case out the opposition. Topics ranged from wages and homelessness to dogs and cats. It'll all make sense in the end.

The candidates:

l-r: Gregor Robertson, Bob Kasting, Mike Hansen, Meena Wong, Tim Ly, Kirk LaPointe

Headsets were available for simultaneous translation into Mandarin and Cantonese. Meena Wong greeted the audience in her native language. In his own greeting, the Mayor's accent was better than one might expect. The question-and-answer sessions were quick, thanks to stringent time restrictions.

The skin I'm in

Question 1: According to an Insights West survey, nearly a third of Vancouver residents of Chinese descent say they have lost employment opportunities due to their ethnicity, while nearly a quarter were mistreated at work. Also, the City Hall makeup does not reflect the proportion of Chinese-descent residents in Vancouver's population. What are the candidates' thoughts on this survey, and what would they do about it as Mayor?

Kirk LaPointe
Kirk LaPointe

  • Kirk LaPointe: Cited his history of fostering diversity, from his tenure of CBC onwards. "I worry bout some of the services that are provided in languages other than English," especially Chinese-language media. Called for zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination.
  • Tim Ly: The current system is limited by political parties' relationships with interest groups. He suggested language availability within City Hall and a citizens' advisory officials elected by their respective neighbourhoods.
  • Meena Wong: Experienced such discrimination when she started living and working abroad: "Know your rights." She said that expats have too much trouble getting back into their professions –– or getting treated fairly by their new employers –– once they make the move to Vancouver. The City has to make sure the playing field is even.
  • Mike Hansen: "They're silver-spoon-fed", he said of the people at City Hall. He then started talking about homelessness, describing it as "a gateway drug."
  • Bob Kasting: Consider "diversity, tolerance and vigilance." Multiculturalism is something that we must continually teach each other.
  • Gregor Robertson: Vancouver has made progress towards acceptance and diversity, despite "a chequered history on this." Diversity represents "who we are now. There is no majority culture here in Vancouver anymore." We have to continue that work with the multicultural advisory committee and immigrant mentorship program.

Two minutes to save Vancouver

Question 2: How will you solve the problems of affordable housing, transportation, and poverty?

Gregor Robertson
Mayor Gregor Robertson

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